8 min read


Picture in taken in Hayden Valley from the car

My husband and I went to Yellowstone National Park at the end of July as part of a big road trip to see Grand Teton National Park as well (details on that trip here). We planned this trip months in advance so that we could book accommodations in the park (tip: be sure to book at least 4 months in advance if you are looking to stay in park in summer).

Make sure to check the status of the park before your trip, major flooding had occurred in areas farther north right before our trip. Thankfully by the time we got there most of the park was back open. It does give us an excuse to come back so we can explore the northern area of the park next time!

For our trip, each day in we stayed at different accommodations, overall we felt like we had enough time to explore the park in our 3 days there. An item to note is that once you are in the park there was pretty much no cell service, so make sure you have a rough sense of where you are going. The park maps were really helpful to get around and there was a little bit of spotty internet at the places we stayed. Make sure you are prepared to be mostly off the grid, hopefully that is already on your mind and you are ready to surround yourself in nature!

Quick run down of the trip:

Day One

  • Lewis Canyon Falls
  • West Thumb Geyser
  • Old Faithful Lodge and Geyser
  • Stay: Old Faithful Inn

Day Two

  • Observation Point
  • Solitary Geyser
  • Grand Prismatic Spring
  • Grand Canyon of Yellowstone: Artist Point & Upper Falls
  • Hayden Valley
  • Stay: Lake Lodge Cabins at Yellowstone Lake

Day Three

  • Hayden Valley
  • Grand Canyon of Yellowstone: North Rim Trail
  • Stay: Bar n Ranch just outside West Yellowstone

Day One

  • Sights: Lewis Canyon Falls, West Thumb Geyser & Old Faithful
  • Distance traveled in the park: 40 miles

We drove up from the Grand Tetons and our first stop in Yellowstone was a little hike down to Lewis Canyon Falls.


Next we stopped at West Thumb Geyser. This was our first geyser stop in Yellowstone and was a good introduction as to what to expect the next few days around geysers. Most places have a wooden boardwalk that guides you around various geysers. Each geyser seems to have its own little personality some bubble, some smoke and others are pretty smelly.


Our final destination for the day was Old Faithful Inn, which is where we stayed that night. The inn did not disappoint, we had seen pictures of it before hand and it was as interesting as we imagined. We had booked a historic room which felt like you were staying in a log cabin. In the room there was bed and sink, the bathroom/shower were just down the hall.


We arrived within a half hour of Old Faithful Geyser going off (tip: in the lobby there are signs for when the next predicted eruption is). There are a few places to watch it, one of which is an upper deck in the inn where you can enjoy a drink. Since this was our first time seeing it we walked outside to be on ground level with it. There were tons of people all lined up on benches ready to watch.


This was the second half of our long roadtrip, were we at Grand Teton before this, so we walked across the parking lot to Old Faithful Snow Lodge to do some much needed laundry. While we waited for the laundry we enjoyed a little bit of internet in the Snow Lodge and got a drink at the bar there.

That evening we had a late reservation for dinner in the Old Faithful Inn dinning room. They serve buffet style, which was little pricey so probably wouldn't do it again. To get a similar experience without have to pay for buffet you can go to the bar that is next door. The bar also has the same high wooden ceilings.


After dinner we wandered around the inn and explored the lobby area a bit more. The wooden structure of the inn is very impressive. The clock in the lobby is probably the biggest clock I've seen.



Day Two

  • Sights: Observation Point, Solitary & Grand Prismatic Spring Geysers, Artist Point, Hayden Valley
  • Distance traveled in the park: 63 miles

Our second day in the park we started off by grabbing a coffee and breakfast sandwich to go from a shop at the inn then headed out to walk around the area a bit. We didn't intend on going very far but ended up walking just over 3 miles.

We started by walking on a boardwalk just outside the lodge to see a few different geysers. A few signs pointed to Observation Point so we went on a little hike which took you up in elevation. From the top we were able to see the whole inn and Old Faithful from above. Timing worked out perfectly that shortly after we got to the top we got to see Old Faithful going off from above.



Next up was Solitary Geyser which was really peaceful this early in the morning with no one else around. It really lived up to its name, it was all alone in the woods.


We then made our way back to the main boardwalk walked around a few more geysers then packed up to get on the road to start exploring Yellowstone.



The goal of the day was to make it to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and stop at points along the way. First stop was Grand Prismatic Spring Geyser. It was very busy when we got there but we were able to find parking down the road. This one was definitely worth the stop, the size and colors of it were unlike anything I've seen. The pictures don't even do it justice!


Next up was the Deep Blue Geyser, which as the name suggests was a very deep blue color. We walked around the boardwalk at this stop then got back in the car to continue the drive.

We stopped at Gibbon Falls before we did a small hike to find a spot to each lunch. After a bit exploring near the lunch spot we headed to do a bit of sightseeing in Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.



We were coming back to this area for Day Three so we just stopped at two view points: Artist Point and Upper Falls View. Both were as pretty as we had hoped for.


It was then time for the final trek of the day to drive to Yellowstone Lake where we stayed the night. In order to get to the lake you have to drive through Hayden Valley this is where we saw our first of many bison.


That night we stayed at Lake Lodge Cabins, it felt like a luxury to have the bathroom/shower in our room! The main lodge was about a block walk down the road and has a dinning hall that serves cafeteria style food and a gift shop. After a full day of exploring a burger and fries were the perfect treat! To finish the day off we wandered across the street to the lake and soaked it all in as we watched sunset.

Day Three

  • Sights: Hayden Valley, North Rim Trail to Inspiration Point, Canyon Village
  • Distance traveled in the park: 61 miles

To start the day we grabbed a coffee from the main lodge then walked along Yellowstone Lake. Today was our last day in Yellowstone so we packed up and hit the road to get one more day of adventures in.

Our goal for our last day was to spend a bit more time exploring the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone which meant we got to do another drive through Hayden Valley. This time we saw a lot more bison in the valley. We even had a close encounter with one from the safety of our car at one of the pull offs. After it walked right next to the car it proceeded to then walk down the middle of the 2 lane road. Crazy how huge bison are!


After a few more stops to see bison we continued into the canyon. We didn't want another day in the car so instead of driving to various viewpoints on the one-way road we hiked the North Rim Trail. To start the hike we parked at the North Rim parking lot and treked out to Inspiration Point. Total to go out and back was about 4 miles. It was my favorite day in the park, I love being able to just pack your backpack for a little adventure. A plus was that not many people were on the trail and we got amazing views along the way that we wouldn't have seen from the car.





We took a snack break at the end then turned around and headed back to the car. Next stop was to get some much needed lunch, so we stopped at Canyon Village, a popular rest area with a few restaurants and gift shops. We opted for a few to go sandwiches, ice cream and a souvenir coffee mug!

Our time in Yellowtone had come to the end so we made our way out of the park to stay at Bar n Ranch which is just outside of the town West Yellowstone. This place was perfect for our last night, it is a cute ranch house with a restaurant just across the way that serves dinner. At night they gave out s'mores kits and had fires going all around the property. It was the perfect ending to an amazing trip!